Ann Wright is a retired U.S. Army officer who served for 29 years and attained the rank of colonel. She joined the Foreign Service in 1987, served as Deputy Chief of Mission of US Embassies in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, and Afghanistan, and received the State Department’s Award for Heroism for her actions. On March 19, 2003, Ann Wright resigned from the Foreign Service. The reason? She did not go along with the Bush Administration’s policies regarding the Middle East and North Korea, and the curtailment of civil liberties following 9/11.
Since then, Wright has been engaged as an anti-war activist, helping to found Camp Casey with Cindy Sheehan, getting herself arrested on several occasions (most recently at the September 15 “die-in” in Washington, on the steps of the Capitol Building), and touring the country as a standard-bearer of anti-war sentiment.
Currently on tour to promote her new book Dissent: Voices of Conscience, Wright appeared at the Church in Ocean Park on November 3 as part of a pre-Veterans Day program presented by a coalition of anti-war and veterans’ groups.
In addition to Wright, the program included writer-activist David Swanson, who spoke out against the impending confirmation of Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey, several veterans, musician Dennis Davis, poet Emma Rosenthal, and Edgar Cuevas, who served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, and recited poetry he composed during his tour:
One thing I don’t want to feel
Is abandonment out here
On the battlefield.
But it was Wright who galvanized the large audience, exhorting them to take action to end the war in Iraq, prevent a war from starting in Iran, and to call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
“This is the third Thanksgiving that we will be putting people in George Bush’s back yard – Crawford, Texas,” said Wright. “If you have frequent flyer miles, come to Camp Casey, because we want the president to know we don’t approve of this illegal activity.”
She urged anti-war activists to write letters to editors, and to contribute in any way possible toward financial help for veterans and their families who need jobs and places to live.
Wright’s book, Dissent, which she co-wrote with Susan Dixon, is not yet available in bookstores because the U.S. State Department is still researching the manuscript for classified material and will not release it for publication. The book is available, however, through mail order from an independent press in Hawaii, Koa Press, and the introduction was written by Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame. Wright read the audience a quote from Ellsberg’s intro: “This is a book that should be leaked into the government.”
In addition to the struggle to get her voice heard, Wright has come up against some other obstacles. She and Code Pink activist Medea Benjamin were recently prevented from entering Canada, due to their names being on an FBI database.
“How do we put pressure on the FBI to get you and others off the list?” someone asked.
“Write your Congress members,” Wright replied. “Ask them why are persons convicted only of misdemeanors being put on an international database?”
She admitted that there are obvious risks in being a “whistle-blower” but that the risks are ultimately worth it.
“People will say Americans are sheep,” she said. “I say there’s more than sheep in our midst.”
“Conscious charging rams!” cried someone in the audience.
Wright laughed with the others but added, “And some very powerful ewes too!”
Dissent: Voices of Conscience, $17.95, is available at koabooks.com, 808.875.7995.